International Stevia Council

Stevia Terms


Stevia is a perennial plant from the Chrysanthemum family, with the benefit of sweet-tasting leaves. The plant was first classified in 1904 by Swiss scientist Moises Santiago Bertoni who named it Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni after himself.

Bertoni first heard of the plant from the native people during an expedition to the eastern part of Paraguay in 1887. It wasn't until 1888 that he received his first Stevia leaves from Northern Paraguay where it was used to sweeten Mate tea. His initial evaluation in 1889 was that the leaves belonged to the Eupatorium family and he gave the name Eupatorium rebaudiana Bertoni. Later, in 1904, he received his first plant with flowers on it and after further identification he determined it was not from the Eupatorium but from the Stevia family and re-named it Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni.

According to Blake (1926) and Robinson (1931), there are over 154 varieties of stevia found in Latin America, while Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni is the only variety that provides sweetness.

Stevia Extracts

The sweet components (Steviol glycosides) extracted from dry Stevia leaves which can be further refined and separated into the specific glycosides found in the leaf.

Stevia Leaf

The leaf of the plant Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni. 

Steviol Glycosides

Steviol glycosides is the collective name of the sweet components present in the Stevia leaf. The INS (International Numbering System) number for Steviol glycosides is 960. These sweet components consist of glucose molecules and in some instances, rhamnose and xylose molecules attached to the aglycone Steviol (diterpene type). The two main components are Stevioside and Rebaudioside A. In addition, there are other associated glycosides, such as Rebaudioside B, C, D, F, Dulcoside A, Rubusoside, Steviolbioside etc.

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has established the specification for Steviol glycosides, stating that the total amount of the above 9 components should be not less more than 95 %. The commercial use of purified Steviol glycosides as a sweetener began in 1971 when Japan started using it in a variety of food and beverages. Today these Steviol glycosides are being approved and used as a natural high-intensity sweetener in a number of countries around the world.

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